Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||James Cameron|
|Screenplay by||James Cameron|
|Based on||La Totale!|
by Claude Zidi
|Music by||Brad Fiedel|
|Box office||$378.9 million|
True Lies is a 1994 American action comedy thriller film written, directed and co-produced by James Cameron. It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Art Malik, Tia Carrere, Bill Paxton, Eliza Dushku, Grant Heslov and Charlton Heston. It is a remake of the 1991 French comedy film La Totale! The film follows U.S. government agent Harry Tasker (Schwarzenegger), who struggles to balance his life as a spy with his familial duties.
True Lies was the first Lightstorm Entertainment project to be distributed under Cameron's multimillion-dollar production deal with 20th Century Fox, as well as the first major production for the visual effects company Digital Domain, which was co-founded by Cameron.
For her performance, Curtis won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and the Saturn Award for Best Actress, while Cameron won the Saturn Award for Best Director. The film ultimately grossed $378 million worldwide at the box-office and was also nominated at the Academy Awards and BAFTAs in the Best Visual Effect category, and also for seven Saturn Awards.
Harry Tasker leads a double life: to his wife Helen and his daughter Dana, he is a boring computer salesman often away on business trips, while in reality he is a covert operative for a U.S. counter-terrorism task force called "Omega Sector". Harry and fellow Agents Albert "Gib" Gibson and Faisal infiltrate a party in Switzerland, where they learn of the existence of a terrorist group known as the "Crimson Jihad", led by Salim Abu Aziz. Harry suspects that American antiques dealer Juno Skinner has ties to Aziz, and visits her undercover as a corporate art consultant. Suspicious, Aziz and his men attempt to kill him, but Harry fights them off and loses Aziz in a pursuit; as a result, he misses the birthday party that his wife and daughter have arranged for him.
Harry heads to Helen's office the next day to surprise her for lunch, but overhears her talking to a man named Simon. Fearing that Helen is having an affair, he uses Omega Sector resources to learn that Simon is a used car salesman, who pretends to be a covert agent to flirt with Helen. Harry and other Omega agents, disguised, kidnap Helen and then frighten Simon into staying away from her. Using a voice masking device, Harry interrogates Helen and learns that due to his constant absence, she is desperately seeking adventure. Harry thus arranges for Helen to participate in a staged spy mission, where she is to seduce a mysterious figure (who is actually Harry himself) and plant a bug in his hotel room. Aziz's men suddenly burst in, kidnap the couple, and take them to an island in the Florida Keys.
Aziz reveals he has smuggled stolen MIRV nuclear warheads into the country via antique statues shipped by Juno, and threatens to detonate them in major U.S. cities unless the U.S. military leaves the Persian Gulf. He also plants one of the warheads on the island, intending to have it detonate after they leave to show the government his commitment. Aziz orders the couple to be tortured, and Harry (under a truth serum) finally confesses his double life to Helen. They escape to watch as the warheads are loaded onto vehicles. Harry leaves Helen to hide as he attacks Aziz's men, but Helen is captured by Juno and taken with the convoy on the Overseas Highway. Harry is rescued by Omega agents and pursues the convoy, sending two Marine Harrier Jump Jets to stop it by destroying part of the Seven Mile Bridge. Harry rescues Helen from Juno's limo before it careens into the ocean below, killing Juno.
Upon returning safely to the mainland, the warhead left on the island detonates for the public to see. Harry then learns that Aziz and his men have taken control of a downtown Miami skyscraper and have kidnapped Dana, threatening to detonate their one remaining bomb. Harry commandeers one of the Harriers to rescue his daughter. Faisal poses as part of a news team requested by Aziz, providing enough distraction for Dana to steal the missile control key and flee the room. Aziz chases Dana onto a tower crane as Harry arrives. Harry is able to rescue Dana, and after a tense struggle with Aziz, Harry eventually has him ensnared on the end of one of the plane's missiles, which Harry fires at a terrorist helicopter, killing Aziz and the remnants of his terrorist gang. Harry, Helen, and Dana are then safely reunited.
A year later, the Tasker's family integrity has been restored, and Helen has become another Omega Sector agent. Harry and Helen embark on a new mission together at a formal party, where they encounter Simon seducing one of the female guests. Helen and Harry intimidate Simon into fleeing, and the film ends with the couple dancing the tango in celebration.
Schwarzenegger stated that while filming a scene with a horse, a camera boom hit the horse and "it went crazy, spinning and rearing" near a drop of 90 feet. Schwarzenegger quickly slid off the horse and stuntman Billy D. Lucas (who was one of Arnold's main doubles and closest friends) caught him; he concluded, "[this is] why I will always love stunt people". Costing $100-120 million to produce, True Lies was the first film with a production budget of over $100 million. It was filmed over a seven-month schedule.
Of the many locations that were used in the film, the Rosecliff Mansion was used for the ballroom tango scenes in the beginning of the film and the exterior of the Swiss chalet that Harry Tasker infiltrates is Ochre Court. The ballroom dancing scene that closes the film, as well as the scenes in the lobby of the fictional Hotel Marquis in Washington, take place in the Crystal Ballroom of the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. The outdoor structures used by Azis's smuggling ring as a base of operations were a series of custom made Alaska Structures fabric buildings, leased to the production crew during filming.
Opening in 2,368 theaters in the United States, True Lies ranked #1 in its opening weekend, earning $25,869,770. True Lies was a box-office success, earning $146,282,411 in the United States and $232,600,000 in the rest of world, totaling $378,882,411 worldwide, making it third best-grossing movie of 1994.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 70% based on 50 reviews, and an average rating of 6.5/10. The website's consensus states, "If it doesn't reach the heights of director James Cameron's and star Arnold Schwarzenegger's previous collaborations, True Lies still packs enough action and humor into its sometimes absurd plot to entertain". On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 63 out of 100, based on 17 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
Despite the positive reviews, the film was criticized by the National Review as sexist, cruel, or even misogynistic, for its treatment of female characters, such as the hero (Schwarzenegger) using his agency's resources to stalk and frighten his wife. Some Muslims perceived the film as conveying a strong anti-Arab or anti-Muslim prejudice.
|"||Taken individually, the cruder and childish things about this film, its determination to use caricatured unshaven Arabs as terrorists, the pleasure it takes in continually mortifying a weasely used-car salesman (Bill Paxton) in the most personal ways, might be overlooked, but added together they leave a sour taste.||"|
|Academy Awards||Best Visual Effects||John Bruno, Thomas L. Fisher, Jacques Stroweis and Patrick McClung||Nominated|
|BAFTA Awards||Best Special Visual Effects||John Bruno, Thomas L. Fisher, Jacques Stroweis, Pat McClung, Jamie Dixon||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Award||Best Actress - Comedy or Musical||Jamie Lee Curtis||Won|
|Saturn Award||Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film||Nominated|
|Best Direction||James Cameron||Won|
|Best Actor||Arnold Schwarzenegger||Nominated|
|Best Actress||Jamie Lee Curtis||Won|
|Best Supporting Actor||Bill Paxton||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress||Tia Carrere||Nominated|
|Best Special Effects||Won|
|MTV Movie Awards||Best Actress||Jamie Lee Curtis||Nominated|
|Best Comedic Performance||Tom Arnold||Nominated|
|Best Kiss||Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis||Nominated|
|Best Dance Sequence||Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tia Carrere||Nominated|
|Best Action Sequence||Bridge Explosion/Limo Rescue||Nominated|
|Eddie Award||Best Editing||Conrad Buff IV, Mark Goldblatt, Richard A. Harris||Nominated|
|Japanese Academy Awards||Outstanding Foreign Language Film||-||Nominated|
|Screen Actors Guild Award||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Jamie Lee Curtis||Nominated|
True Lies was released on VHS and Laserdisc after its theatrical release, and on DVD on May 25, 1999. A high definition version was released on D-Theater in 2003. In 2018, James Cameron stated that a new transfer for Blu-ray has been completed, but he hasn't found time to review it.
Cameron originally planned to make a sequel sometime in 2002, but he put his plans on hold once the September 11, 2001 attacks occurred in New York City, saying terrorism was no longer something to be taken lightly. In a later interview, James Cameron stated there are no plans for a True Lies sequel, but he and Schwarzenegger had spoken about possibly working on a new project together once Schwarzenegger left office as Governor of California, which he did in 2011.
In the film The Kid & I, Tom Arnold plays a fictional character based on himself. In that film, the character had starred in True Lies and is pursued by a fan and teams up with Henry Winkler and Linda Hamilton to make a sequel; Schwarzenegger and Curtis cameo as themselves.
|Film score by |
Brad Fiedel and various artists
|Released||July 19, 1994|
All music is composed by Brad Fiedel, except where noted.
|1.||"Sunshine of Your Love"||Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton||Living Colour||5:17|
|2.||"Darkness, Darkness"||Jesse Colin Young||Screaming Trees||4:08|
|3.||"Alone in the Dark"||John Hiatt||John Hiatt||4:46|
|4.||"Entity"||Christian Leibfried, Geoff Haba, Bryan Tulao, David Robert Gould||Mother Tongue||4:21|
|5.||"Sunshine of Your Love (The Adrian Sherwood & Skip McDonald Remix)"||Bruce, Clapton||Living Colour||5:49|
|6.||"Main Title/Harry Makes His Entrance"||2:40|
|7.||"Escape from the Chateau"||2:41|
|8.||"Harry's Sweet Home"||1:06|
|9.||"Harry Rides Again"||7:05|
|10.||"Spying on Helen"||4:16|
|12.||"Caught in the Act"||1:29|
|17.||"Harry Saves the Day"||8:26|
Songs appearing in the film not included on the soundtrack album: